Innovative spectrum sharing has been under discussion in the UK in a variety of guises for several years. The TVWS initiative is probably the best known in recent times, but discussion is intensifying as more recently Ofcom has been engaging in a public debate about innovative sharing to enable local licensing in alternative bands aside from those more widely licensed to mainstream operators. The most recent initiative addresses the 3800-4200 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2390-2400MHz, 7900-8400 MHz and 26 GHz bands. Ofcom issued a statement in July 2019 titled “Enabling wireless innovation through local licensing” laying out the way forward including future consideration of DSA (Dynamic Spectrum Access).
In the UK SPF Cluster 4 workshop we heard from the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (represented by Nominet) and Federated Wireless (represented by Access Partnership) about the multi-tiered authorisation approach for CBRS in the US in the 3.5 GHz range which has been developing since 2012. The regulatory conditions and the authorisation process have now matured sufficiently that the first commercial trials are now starting across the US. From Huawei we heard about current examples of intra-service and inter-service spectrum sharing, as well as the experiences in CEPT to develop a framework for sharing between licensed mobile networks and incumbent fixed and fixed satellite services (FS/FSS) in the 3.6-3.8 GHz range. The opportunity for identifying additional new spectrum for Wi-Fi applications or IMT in the 6-7 GHz band by sharing with FS and FSS was explored by the presenters.
All these presentations underlined the non-trivial nature of the regulatory and technical challenges being overcome to strike the right balance for ensuring the protection of incumbent services whilst enabling a worthwhile opportunity for new players and innovation in spectrum use. New localised service providers could emerge to deliver a wide range of applications particularly where current public networks find it difficult to deliver.
We also heard on behalf of the SPF Cluster 2 about the development of a functional specification for DSA aimed at complementing the recent Ofcom sharing and local licensing discussions identified above. This is under development by a team of willing industry participants and can be followed in Cluster 2 of the SPF. See the SPF events page for details.